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Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future

by Johan Norberg

Someone writes to Amazon:

This book will make you understand why it SEEMS the world is getting worse, while it is actually becoming better more and more.

Someone else:

A tour de force of facts that dispute the conventional wisdom that things are getting worse. In fact, violence is down, health, literacy and opportunities are up and life is getting better for people in most countries.

Norberg compares today with "humanity's early history, when life was nasty, brutish and short." He writes:

Despite a few ups and downs, humanity had experienced almost no economic development until the early nineteenth century....the value of goods and services per person increased only fifty percent between year 1 CE and 1820

The book is only 218 pages, filled with statistics but easy reading compared to most academic works. Norberg is a free market classical liberal, a free-trader who believes in democracy and respect for all ethnicities and equal rights for women and gays. He is a historian and author from Sweden, and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, described by Wikipedia as "an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C."

So why is he so sure that gains will continue into the future? He does write that the gains are not inevitable. His last paragraph reads:

Even though wealth and human lives can be destroyed, knowledge rarely disappears. It keeps on growing. Therefore any kind of backlash is unlikely to ruin human progress entirely. But progress is not automatic. All the progress that has been recorded in this book is the result of hard-working people, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs with strange, new ideas, and brave individuals who fought for their freedom to do new things in new ways. If progress is to continue, you and I will have to carry the torch.

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